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How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils

Cleaning a fridge does not mean emptying it of all its contents! A fridge needs to be wiped and polished, in the inside as well as its outside surface. A key part of your fridge that needs to be cleaned, once in a while, is the coolant coils. Read on to learn the right way to clean the coils.
HomeQuicks Staff
Under a bed. Behind doors. Under the kitchen sink. Behind wardrobes and cupboards. What do all these locations have in common? Aside from being "behind" or "under" something, these are also places in your house that collect a lot of dust but rarely get cleaned. In fact, one tends to ignore such places, following the old "out of sight, out of mind" mantra. Another such place is behind or underneath the refrigerator, where its cooling coils are located. Now you may ask, if the inside and outside the fridge is clean, then why clean the coils? For starters, the fridge needs those coils to stay cool and remove heat. So when the said coils are clogged with dirt, dust and grime, your fridge finds it difficult to stay cool and hence there is an increase in heat within the fridge. Plus with clogged coils, the fridge will now eat up more power to stay cool, as it must work more and faster. A clogged coil means your fridge consumes roughly 25% more power than before. Cut down on your electricity bills by cleaning dirty refrigerator coils.

Before dealing with the fridge cleaning steps, first you must find out where the coils are located on your refrigerator. Based on the age and make of your fridge, the condenser coils are either underneath the fridge, located on a tray or shelf or mounted on the fridge's back. Some models have coils at the back of the fridge but located towards the bottom. A grate or cover may be fixed to protect the coils. These are fixed with screws, so you may need to unscrew the grate, take it off, do your cleaning and then fix the grate back. Keep screws and such parts carefully aside.

Caution: Turn the fridge's power off, unplug it from the main power outlet and then perform any cleaning steps. With built-in models, turn off the circuit breaker. If the power remains on, you could get a shock while cleaning!

How to Clean Refrigerator Coils Located Beneath the Fridge?
  • If the coils are on the fridge's back but at the bottom, pull the fridge a little away from the wall.
  • The coils will be protected by a cover panel, called a kickplate. Read the fridge's manual or look for any signs on the kickplate, as to how to remove it.
  • The kickplate may need to be unscrewed to be taken off or you can just lift it off. Keeping the fridge door open could make this job easier.
  • The coils may be filled and clogged with thick hair-like dust (especially if you have pets). Remove any hair or dust balls by your hand.
  • You can use a vacuum cleaner to suck out the dust. Attach the long, thin vacuum nozzle (also called a crevice too) and vacuum up tough dust from the coils.
  • Handle the vacuum carefully, do not bend or damage any of the coils or touch the cooling fan.
  • Slide the nozzle in, do not poke or prod. If it gets stuck, turn off the power and take it out slowly.
  • Instead of a vacuum cleaner, you could use a special coil-cleaning brush. This type of brush is long and thin with tough white bristles, sort of like a bottle cleaning brush, only bigger. Such brushes are available at home appliances and DIY stores.
  • Use the brush to wipe off or brush off the dust. Do not use water on the coils. You can vacuum off the dirt from the brush or take it outside and dust it if needed.
  • Do not poke the coils with the brush or touch the fan. Instead, brush the top and the undersides of the coil. Clean the grate or cover and fix it back into place.
  • There may be dust and grime on the floor, dislodged from the cleaning. Vacuum it up now.
  • Push the refrigerator back against the wall and plug in its power cable. Then turn it back on.
  • Cleaning the coils on a refrigerator should be done twice a year and if you have pets at home, then more often.
How to Clean Refrigerator Coils Located Behind the Fridge?

For fridges with mounted coils, where a thick grid of coils is fixed on the back of the fridge, such diligent cleaning is needed only once a year. You will need to pull the fridge away from the wall and turn off the power. Then you can use the vacuum cleaner or the brush to get rid of the dust, whichever is possible and convenient. In such fridges, the fan may be visible. So try to clean the dust off the fan blades. You can use a small brush to dust away the dirt and can gently wipe the fan blades with a clean cloth.

Try to get someone to help you perform such cleaning, especially for moving the fridge. An extra hand for help will make it easy to handle the vacuum cleaner. Be very careful and gentle around the coils. They are quite delicate and if you tear or bend them, be prepared to buy a new fridge!
Repairman Repairing Refrigerator